14th-19th May 2006 - A Great Craic  
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The Route Day-by-Day

The Emerald Isle Classic 2006 Sunday May 14th
Sunday is reserved for scrutineering and the traditional CRA welcome dinner. This allows crews with work commitments to travel to Ireland on Saturday or Sunday morning before our Monday morning start.

Monday May 15th
"The Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea", so goes the famous Irish song. And at the foot of them, right on the waters edge, is the lovely Slieve Donard Hotel, the starting point for the 4th Emerald Isle Classic.

Easily reached from ferries or flights into either Dublin or Belfast, the Slieve Donard provides the perfect backdrop for the start of your week long adventure. From here we head west across Ulster, through the beautiful Mountains of Mourne and into Armagh. Across the border, the maze of lanes in the drumlin country of Monaghan should provide a stern challenge before the overnight halt in ancient town of Enniskillen, sandwiched between the island strewn lakes of Upper and Lower Lough Erne.

Tuesday May 16th
From Enniskillen the route heads west, through the forested hills of Fermanagh and into Sligo, where some traditional "special tests" await. After crossing the Ox Mountains you enter the remote county of Mayo, one of the least populated areas of Ireland.

This north west corner of the country is exposed to all the weather the wild Atlantic can throw at it, and nowhere is this shown more graphically than in its rugged coastal scenery as well as the windswept heights of the Nephin Beg Range. You will enjoy some wonderful driving before a welcome overnight halt at Westport.

The picturesque Kylemore Abbey - just one of so many stunning scenes on the Emerald Isle route.

Wednesday May 17th
Some of the most beautiful country in the whole of Ireland awaits you today. The Partry Mountains overlooking the expanse of Lough Mask precedes a tour of Joyce Country before heading west into the barren hills and boglands of Connemara. The ancient abbey of Kylemore, in its picturesque lakeside setting, and then on to Clifden - where Alcock and Brown "landed" after their record breaking trans-Atlantic flight.

South east lies Galway, but we skirt the busy city before final sections through the strange limestone karst scenery of the Burren brings the rally to Bunratty - famous for it's impressive castle.

Those on the Club category are free to enjoy a relaxing meal in the hotel, or perhaps join a medieval banquet in the castle, while the Masters will be out until midnight in the lanes around Limerick for a traditional Irish "night leg".

Thursday May 18th
Once south of Limerick, the land flattens a little as we reach the fertile Golden Valley. However, there are still enough roads and junctions to outwit the unwary navigator, and to keep most drivers on their toes.

The Galty and Knockmealdown Ranges provide a bit of mountain motoring on the borders of Tipperary and Co. Cork before we turn north through some familiar tests to the overnight halt in the historic town of Kilkenny.

Friday May19th
The lovely valley of the River Barrow leads us north east into Carlow for more tests and regularities. However, the looming bulk of the Wicklow Mountains are ever present on the horizon to provide a fitting backdrop to the final afternoons run.

Finally we reach the Dubin's Burlington Hotel where you can relax and enjoy a drink or two before the Gala Prize Giving.